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Sophie de Goede: 'We are peaking at the right time'

By Gary Heatly
NORTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - JUNE 02: Sophie de Goede of Saracens is tackled by Helena Rowland of Loughborough Lightning during the Allianz Premiership Women's Rugby match between Loughborough Lightning and Saracens at cinch Stadium at Franklin's Gardens on June 02, 2024 in Northampton, England. (Photo by Paul Harding/Getty Images)

There are busy seasons and then there is the type of season that Sophie de Goede is having, but the Saracens back-rower would not have it any other way with a Premiership Women’s Rugby [PWR] play-off semi-final the next thing on the horizon for this force of nature.

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The 24-year-old rejoined Saracens for a second stint at the club last summer and since then she has been playing regularly for them, has turned out for Canada on the HSBC SVNS circuit and has captained the national XVs squad to an amazing triumph in the recent Pacific Four Series [PAC 4].

It makes you tired just to think about it, but her energy levels are as high as ever as we reach the business end of the PWR campaign with Sarries getting ready to host Bristol Bears at the StoneX Stadium on Sunday in their last four tie.

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“Lots of sleep and lots of food,” De Goede replies, slightly tongue in cheek, when asked how she has got through this busiest of busy campaigns with three different teams.

“Seriously though I have a really good support system around me and in each environment I have been in this season everyone has been really understanding.

“For Saracens to allow me to go and play sevens and then PAC 4 shows how much they care about the individual people that play on this team.

“And then for Canada sevens and XVs to understand what I want to achieve here at the club has been great and I think everyone has worked well collaboratively and it has allowed me to have so many great opportunities this year.

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“It is always nice to look back and I have some great recent memories, but I am just trying to stay present and in the moment because there are some incredible opportunities ahead starting on Sunday.

“One of the things I always think about is trusting in my preparation. I have done so much work this season on that – and in previous seasons too – to make sure that I am ready for these types of moments and I just try to relax, enjoy the preparation and let the process take care of itself.

“At the end of the day, it is a rugby game, sometimes you win and sometimes you lose, but as long as I have prepared myself properly then I always feel good going into games.

“And I think a lot of that is to do with the culture within the Saracens organisation as a whole because it is very much around caring for people.

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“Yes, we want to win, but around here you get the sense that everyone cares about you and your family and that trickles down into the team and the way we play for each other.

“We have people from all over in the squad here that have come together and we genuinely care for each other and I just feel blessed to be surrounded by such great individuals on and off the pitch.”

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Having lost out to Exeter Chiefs in last year’s league semi-final before De Goede’s return, Saracens are not in the mood to fall at the same hurdle again. They go into the last four as Allianz Cup winners and have won their four regular season games post-Six Nations and PAC 4.

They finished second in the standings with Bristol third and, in the regular season, both won one game apiece against each other.

“After the win against Loughborough last weekend vibes are really high in the squad,” De Goede stated.

“There were a lot of changes for that game and it tested our depth and I think it showed the strength of our whole squad and, overall, we are feeling positive.

“There is a lot of excitement around going into this weekend.

“I feel we are peaking at the right time. We have had some good performances in the league of late while a lot of players are coming off having good Six Nations and PAC 4 performances with their countries and, while we were away, the girls who were back here at Saracens won the Allianz Cup.

“Everyone in the squad has been riding high as individual players and the way we have been able to come together as a group since those internationals has been really pleasing.

“We have clicked recently against Gloucester-Hartpury and then Loughborough and it has given us momentum heading into this semi.

“Bristol are a threat from anywhere on the pitch, they will look to play.

“If they can play from their own 22 they will, you always have to be alive to them and they have a lot of gifted individual players so there are lots of fires to put out across the pitch.

“They are a formidable side and we will have to bring our ‘A’ game at the weekend if we want to progress.”

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